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In
gridiron football Gridiron football,"Gridiron football"
''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrie ...
, blitzing is a tactic used by the
defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is ty ...
to disrupt pass attempts by the offense. During a blitz, a higher than usual number of defensive players will
rush Rush(es) may refer to: Places United States * Rush, Colorado * Rush, Kentucky * Rush, New York * Rush City, Minnesota * Rush Creek (Kishwaukee River tributary), Illinois * Rush Creek (Marin County, California), a stream * Rush Creek (Mono County, ...
the opposing
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
, in an attempt either to tackle him or force him to hurry his pass attempt. In practice, a blitz involves five or more players rushing during a single
down Down most often refers to: * Down, the relative direction opposed to up * Down (gridiron football), in American/Canadian football, a period when one play takes place * Down feather, a soft bird feather used in bedding and clothing * Downland, a typ ...
, rather than the four rushers used during normal play. For example, in a defense that normally uses four
defensive linemen 350px, A diagram of the linemen, with defensive linemen (in 4-3 formation) in red and offensive linemen in green. In gridiron football Gridiron football,linebacker A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They re ...

linebacker
s or
defensive back In gridiron football Gridiron football,"Gridiron football"
''Encyclopæ ...
s. Blitzing is a higher-risk strategy, as fewer defensive players are left to cover receivers or to defend against running plays. However, a successful blitz will result in a sack or will force the quarterback into making an error.


History

The blitz began with the "red-dog", likely first done by Red Ettinger a linebacker for the University of
Kansas Kansas () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its Capital city, capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, Kansas, Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebraska to the north; ...
, sometime between 1948–1950. The term "red-dog" referred to a rushing
linebacker A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They re ...

linebacker
that created a six-on-five matchup against the offensive line; and blitz meant rushing seven, thereby leaving one potential receiver uncovered. The term "red-dog" is at least as old as 1959.http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1133924/2/ Defensive coordinator Chuck Drulis is widely credited with inventing the safety blitz in 1960.
Bill Arnsparger William Stephen Arnsparger (December 16, 1926 – July 17, 2015) was an American college and professional football Football is a family of team sport A team is a roup_(disambiguation),_group_of_individuals_(human_or_non-human)_working_to_...
_is_the_likely_creator_of_the_zone_blitz.


_How_blitzing_works

On_passing_plays,_the_offense_always_has_at_least_five_people_blocking._From_the_quarterback's_left_to_right,_they_are_the_left_tackle,_left_guard,_center,_right_guard,_right_tackle._The_quarterback_will_throw_the_pass,_and_is_not_an_available_blocker._Any_other_player_is_available_to_block,_or_to_be_a_target_for_a_pass,_depending_on_the_play_design_and_modification_by_the_quarterback_and_center_based_on_what_they_see_the_defense_doing. The_defense_can_bring_all_11_players_to_blitz_the_quarterback._This_would_leave_no_one_to_defend_against_a_pass._So_the_defense_chooses_to_bring_a_certain_number_of_players_to_try_to_sack_the_quarterback,_and_leaves_the_rest_to_protect_against_a_pass._For_this_reason,_when_defenses_want_to_blitz,_they_usually_rush_at_least_five_players. By_nature,_blitzes_are_risky_endeavors_for_the_defense._Since_the_defense_is_taking_away_coverage_defenders_to_rush_the_quarterback,_this_usually_means_that_the_ roup_(disambiguation),_group_of_individuals_(human_or_non-human)_working_to_...
_is_the_likely_creator_of_the_zone_blitz.


_How_blitzing_works

On_passing_plays,_the_offense_always_has_at_least_five_people_blocking._From_the_quarterback's_left_to_right,_they_are_the_left_tackle,_left_guard,_center,_right_guard,_right_tackle._The_quarterback_will_throw_the_pass,_and_is_not_an_available_blocker._Any_other_player_is_available_to_block,_or_to_be_a_target_for_a_pass,_depending_on_the_play_design_and_modification_by_the_quarterback_and_center_based_on_what_they_see_the_defense_doing. The_defense_can_bring_all_11_players_to_blitz_the_quarterback._This_would_leave_no_one_to_defend_against_a_pass._So_the_defense_chooses_to_bring_a_certain_number_of_players_to_try_to_sack_the_quarterback,_and_leaves_the_rest_to_protect_against_a_pass._For_this_reason,_when_defenses_want_to_blitz,_they_usually_rush_at_least_five_players. By_nature,_blitzes_are_risky_endeavors_for_the_defense._Since_the_defense_is_taking_away_coverage_defenders_to_rush_the_quarterback,_this_usually_means_that_the_defensive_back">secondary Secondary_is_an_adjective_meaning_"second"_or_"second_hand".__It_may_refer_to: *_Secondary_(chemistry),_term_used_in_organic_chemistry_to_classify_various_types_of_compounds *_The_group_of_(usually_at_least_four)_defensive_backs_in_gridiron_football_...
_can_not_afford_to_miss_any_coverage_assignments.__The_defense_does_not_and_cannot_cover_all_offensive_players,_but_rather_through_the_blitz,_is_proactively_involved_in_pressuring_the_quarterback—specifically,_trying_to_quarterback_sack.html" ;"title="defensive_back.html" "title="zone_blitz.html" ;"title="roup (disambiguation), group of individuals (human or non-human) working to ...
is the likely creator of the zone blitz">roup (disambiguation), group of individuals (human or non-human) working to ...
is the likely creator of the zone blitz.


How blitzing works

On passing plays, the offense always has at least five people blocking. From the quarterback's left to right, they are the left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, right tackle. The quarterback will throw the pass, and is not an available blocker. Any other player is available to block, or to be a target for a pass, depending on the play design and modification by the quarterback and center based on what they see the defense doing. The defense can bring all 11 players to blitz the quarterback. This would leave no one to defend against a pass. So the defense chooses to bring a certain number of players to try to sack the quarterback, and leaves the rest to protect against a pass. For this reason, when defenses want to blitz, they usually rush at least five players. By nature, blitzes are risky endeavors for the defense. Since the defense is taking away coverage defenders to rush the quarterback, this usually means that the defensive back">secondary Secondary is an adjective meaning "second" or "second hand". It may refer to: * Secondary (chemistry), term used in organic chemistry to classify various types of compounds * The group of (usually at least four) defensive backs in gridiron football ...
can not afford to miss any coverage assignments. The defense does not and cannot cover all offensive players, but rather through the blitz, is proactively involved in pressuring the quarterback—specifically, trying to quarterback sack">sack him, throw off his timing, or force him to make an error such as an interception or fumble. The most common blitzes are linebacker blitzes. Safety blitzes, in which a safety (American football position), safety (usually the free safety) is sent, and corner blitzes, where a
cornerback A cornerback (CB) is a members of the defensive back In gridiron football, defensive backs (DBs), also called the secondary, are the players on the defensive side of the ball who play farthest back from the line of scrimmage. They are distin ...

cornerback
is sent, are less common. Sending a defensive back on a blitz is even riskier than a linebacker blitz, as it removes a primary pass defender from the coverage scheme. The pressure, however, is very severe because a blitz by a defensive back is usually not anticipated by the offensive team's blockers.


Defensive shells and techniques

Blitzes are usually run from " Cover 1" coverage shells, which assign one man to guard the entire deep field, though blitzes can be employed in nearly any coverage scheme. Cover 1 is most effective in terms of blitzing because it allows a larger number of defensive players to tighten down on the line of scrimmage, thus increasing the variety of blitzes possible. Since the main goal is to disrupt the offensive play before it even develops, many blitz packages encourage cornerbacks to play tight man
bump and run coverage Bump and run coverage is a strategy formerly widely used by defensive back In gridiron football, defensive backs (DBs), also called the secondary, are the players on the defensive side of the ball who play furthest back from the line of scrimmag ...
to disrupt the wide receivers' release and prevent them from running their pre-assigned routes. The non-blitzing safety, usually the free safety, has an enormous amount of field to protect and is at a serious disadvantage if the blitz is unsuccessful and receivers threaten his coverage area or if the offense can quickly move the ball forward through immediate checkdown passes or
draw playA draw play, or simply draw for short, is a type of American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rec ...
s. As such, he usually works for depth upon the snap of the ball, backpedaling into his assigned zone. Linebackers are either blitzing or in pass coverage. Blitzing
linebackers A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
can employ various stunts to confuse the offense's blockers and break down their protection scheme. Coverage linebackers in a Cover 1 scheme will usually have man responsibility on a halfback, fullback, or
tight end The tight end (TE) is a position in American football, arena football, and Canadian football, on the offense (sports), offense. The tight end is often a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide re ...
. Some defensive schemes employ "key" blitzes where a player will blitz only if his assigned man stays in to block, thus keying his action off the action of his man. If his man releases into a pass pattern, then the defensive player will cover him. For example, if weak side linebacker has the fullback as his man, if upon the snap of the ball the fullback blocks, the linebacker will blitz.


Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages gained by blitzing are obvious: proactively disrupt the offense's play before it develops and cause enough pressure on the
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
to force him into a turnover, sack, or incomplete pass. Disadvantages abound in any blitz scheme as well. First, the
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using
code words''Code Words'' is an online publication Electronic publishing (also referred to as publishing, digital publishing, or online publishing) includes the digital publication of e-book An electronic book, also known as an e-book or eBook, is a book p ...
that shift the protection to the blitzing player's side, thus strengthening their
blocking Blocking may refer to: Science, technology, and mathematics Computing and telecommunications *Blacklist (computing) *Blocking (computing), holding up a task until an event occurs *Blocking probability, for calls in a telecommunications system *H ...
front. The
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
can also call other players into the protection scheme with audibles if he feels that his current protection is weak. With good protection calls and fundamental blocking principles, some blitzes can be "picked up" — stopped at the point of attack. Second, the tight man bump and run technique typical of blitz scheme cornerbacks can be defeated with aggressive wide receiver release moves. Once this happens, the cornerback is at a disadvantage and must regain ground and position quickly to prevent a catch. If the blitz is picked up, the wide receiver can create enough separation to become open relatively quickly. Third, if the blitz is picked up, the one deep defender (usually the free safety) has an enormous amount of territory to guard. If two players simultaneously threaten his zone, he must decide which one to cover. The quarterback can read his reaction and throw to the other receiver, usually for a big gain. Fourth, if the pass is caught, there are fewer defenders and larger gaps between defenders, meaning that the receiver can get more yards after catch and possibly turn a minimal gain into a dangerous play.


Playing against the blitz

Offenses employ the above procedures to beat the blitz as well as two other techniques and passing route combinations designed to exploit weaknesses in a blitzing scheme. One of those techniques is called "throwing hot," which entails intentionally leaving one blitzing defensive player unblocked. The offensive line usually makes pre-snap adjustments so that the "free" rusher is clearly within the QB's field of vision. This limits devastating blind-side hits on the QB by rushers. When the preparedness of a quarterback allows him to not have to worry about getting hit from behind, it is one less psychological element of the blitz to be taken away, and thus blitz is incrementally made less effective by that particular element. The other technique, sometimes used in conjunction with throwing hot, is called sight adjustment. Receivers are taught to run into the empty spot vacated by a blitzing player instead of running their pre-assigned pattern. The QB sees the free rusher or blitzing LB/CB and knows that the receiver will sight adjust accordingly and run a route that takes him into the hole left by the defender. The West Coast Offense is an offense that focuses on ball control and short passes. This is a well timed offense where the
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
throws the ball quickly to avoid the rush, but still allow the
wide receiver A wide receiver (WR), also referred to as a wideout, historically a split end, is an eligible receiver in gridiron football. A key skill position of the offense (American football), offense, WR gets its name from the player being split out "wi ...

wide receiver
to get behind the blitzing players. Another method is a trick play, known as an "offensive blitz", because it is used when the defense blitzes. A quarterback throws a pass to a receiver to draw the remaining defenders to him, because the blitzers will be in the backfield, and the quarterback runs down the other side of the field; the receiver then throws the ball back to the quarterback with a lateral, who then tries to run in for a touchdown. If executed properly, this play can result in large gains and heavily discourage blitzing. Ideally, the blitzing defenders are all in the backfield while the corners are all over the receiver. The
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and
Pittsburgh Steelers The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport S ...
have run variations of the play successfully in the
National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any s ...
playoffs The playoffs, play-offs, postseason or finals of a sports league A sports league is a group of sports team A sports team is a group of individuals who play sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activi ...
.


See also

*
Glossary of American football The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor American football, indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see ''Glossary of Canadian football''. ...
*
Zone blitz In American football, a zone blitz is a defensive tactic that sends additional players to Pass rush, rush the opposing team's quarterback, whilst also unexpectedly redirecting a supposed pass rushing player into American football strategy#Pass defen ...


Citations


Sources

*Gruver, Edward (2002), ''Nitschke''. Lanham:Taylor Trade Publishing.


External links


Don 'Red Dog' EttingerLawrence (Larry) Frank Wilson
{{Gridiron football maneuvers American football plays